Li Tianji’s Xing Yi Legacy; Andrea Falk’s Dictionary

Plum is adding another text by Andrea Falk, a translation of significance to Xing Yi practitioners: Li TianJi’s The Skills of XingYiQuan;  311 pages, with hundreds of illustrations. This is a thorough text on the style handed down to Li Tianji from his father, Li Yulin. It’s very well laid out with sections covering basic hands and feet, physical requirements and more. The bonus here is that this is one of the most complete descriptions of Xing Yi including all the basic concepts of Chinese martial arts seen from a Xing Yi viewpoint. Many forms, clear translation, a barrel full of detailed observations and hints.

While I reviewed this XingYi book I had cause to refer again to  Andrea Falk’s Martial Arts Dictionary. Going back to it for some information, I realized that I had not fully represented it. Now I’m talking to the scholars out there. When Plum initially added Sifu Falk’s big Chinese/English dictionary of martial terms, I thought that since I have a fine translation application, this book might not be that helpful to me.

But Chinese is a funny language, mono-syllabic at foundation but bi-syllabic in use. It is crucial when you learn the language to understand that the “buddy system” of word next to word gives the important variations in meaning. A bi-syllabic dictionary like this will  include a lot of these specialized words that you could not find in a normal translation application. They are customized to martial training; having different meanings from every day speech. If you want to work with translating martial material, or just expanding your knowledge of Kung Fu, you will find yourself browsing this big book over and over and thanking Ms. Falk that she compiled it before you had to.

Here’s a book where you are going to find the Chinese characters, the pin yin and the English translation all in groups of related words. It’s these related woods that really give you an idea of the meaning in Chinese. Sample here:

Quan Fist: Bare-handed training. Also used for martial arts in general.
Quan bei: Fist’s back surface.
Quan fa: Bare handed methods. Also term for fist techniques to separate from palm or forearm techniques.
Quan feng: Fist’s peak edge.
Quan gen: Fist’s meaty part, the heel of the fist.
Quan jue: Martial formula; short, pithy, usually rhyming explanations of martial theory, to aid understanding and memory.
Quan li: Salute. Right fist in left open hand is a common salute, In China the salute is given at attention, not bowing.
Quan li: Martial theory: the theoretical foundation behind a system or style of martial art.
Quan lun: the meaty part of the fist
Quan men: A style, or type, of martial art.
Quan mian: Fist “face”, first finger segments surface, the normal punching surface of the muscles.

 Get the idea? …

One Response to “Li Tianji’s Xing Yi Legacy; Andrea Falk’s Dictionary”

  1. Jeff says:

    Speaking of, have you ever heard of a 17th century Xing Yi teacher named Wong Chun Yoh? I found a curious, translated web posting that states the karate legend Chatan Yara studied Xing Yi under Wong Chun Yoh. Chatan Yara was the instructor of Takahara Peichin, who was the first teacher of Tode Sakugawa. Sakugawa is given much of the credit for formulating what would become karate, along with his most famous student, Bushi Matsumura.

    Karate’s association with White Crane and Monk Fist boxing is fairly well established. But if there were an earlier link between Okinawan Te and Xing Yi, that would be something new and exciting.

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